A HARARE resources firm has slapped former Mines minister, Winston Chitando with a slew of criminal charges for allegedly corruptly awarding lucrative gold claims in Bindura to a rival miner.

The charges, which range from abuse of public office to fraud, relate to how Chitando, who is now the Local Government minister, handled a dispute over four gold claims between Blackgate Investments and a company called Ran Mine and G&P Industries.

Chitando resolved the dispute in favour of Ran Mine and G&P Industries, which is currently running operations at the gold claims.

Ran Mine in Bindura has been operating for over a century, but has been the scene of some of the worst mining accidents in the country in recent years.

The claims that are at the centre of the dispute are Kimberley 18 and 19, which Chitando awarded to Ran Mine and G&P Industries in his 2021 determination.

Ran Mine and G&P Industries has been at loggerheads with Blackgate for over 15 years, according to documents seen by Alpha Media Holdings’ investigative unit, the Truth Diggers.

In the dockets filed at Harare Central Police Station on January 24 this year, Blackgate claim criminal activities involving a string of powerful individuals took place ahead of Chitando’s determination.

Onesimo Moyo, the former Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary, was also separately slapped with criminal charges in the dockets that were submitted to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and several key government agencies.

Another copy was handed to Godwin Matanga, Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), for ‘safe keeping.’

Angeline Munyeza, a director at Blackgate, claimed Chitando “emerged as a kingpin who violated the Mines and Minerals Act countless times through his…”self-serving decision making and use of emissaries who would front his own personal interests…”

“On the 31st of August 2021…Winston Chitando made a determination, which granted Blackgate Investments the claims Kimberley 20 and 21 but excluded Kimberley 18 and 19 from its ownership, which went against the resolutions and recommendations made by the dispute resolution committee at the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development,” Munyeza said.

“The decision that was made by Mr Chitando on the 31st of August 2021 to grant Ran Mine and G&P Industries Kimberely 18 & 19 claims was a unilateral one that sought to abandon the investigations and conclusions of the dispute resolution committee to the prejudice of Blackgate Investments.”

Blackgate’s charge sheet, which is under reference number CR695/01/24, further claimed there was ‘conspiracy’ to forfeit the claims at the centre of the dispute.

In previous interviews with the Zimbabwe Independent, Ran Mine and G&P denied wrongdoing with regards to the claims.

Munyeza claimed special police units were working on the case.

“We have since opened criminal cases, which are currently being investigated by the Police Anti-Corruption Unit (Pacu),” Blackgate’s charge sheet reads.

“Therefore, according to Section 188 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act9:23) we are accusing the aforementioned individuals of “conspiracy” with Chitando…as the mastermind who sought to deliberately prejudice Blackgate Investments of its ownership of the mining claims in the dispute.”

Chitando’s communications office at the Local Government ministry this week referred questions to the Ministry of Mines.

But authorities at the Ministry of Mines said they were unable to comment on a case that was pending before the courts.

“For now, we are unable to comment on matters that are sub judice…its pending before the court,” Wilfred Munetsi, an official at the ministry, said.

Former mines permanent secretary Moyo said he could not comment on a case that was pending before the courts.

“As you would appreciate…this matter is already before the courts. I cannot comment because this matter is sub judice. I trust you will find this response to be in order,” Moyo noted.

Blackgate — through Munyeza — confirmed that the firm lodged its complaints with Pacu and specifically wrote to Matanga about the issue.

“Yes, I wrote to commissioner general Matanga,” Munyeza said.

“The office of the commissioner general acknowledged receipt of the letter. Some dockets are with Pacu and others with CCU.”

Matanga said last night is was still studying Blackgate’s files.

“The Commissioner General is still studying the appeal from Blackgate Investments and the veracity of the allegations raised,” Paul Nyathi, the ZRP spokesperson, said.

“A detailed Zimbabwe Republic Police response to the media inquiries and the company’s representative will be availed in due course,” he added.

Documents claim that Moyo had acted based on a ‘fake’ letter purported to have been signed by his predecessor Francis Gudyanga on November 25, 2013 awarding the assets to Ran Mine and G&P Industries.

The documents indicate that Gudyanga denied signing the letter.

Blackgate’s charge sheet shows that in a bid to resolve the dispute, Munyeza attended a meeting on February 6, 2020 at the Mines ministry together with Ran Mine and G&P directors Jackson Murehwa and Richard Chiwandire where Gudyanga’s November 25 “letter” was produced.

“Sometime on the 6th of February 2020… at the Ministry of mines…I attended a dispute committee meeting involving Blackgate Investments (and) Ran Mines and G&P Industries,” Blackgate’s charge sheet against Moyo reads.

“In the said meeting Ran Mine and G&P Industries submitted a letter purportedly written by the former permanent secretary of mines Gudyanga.

“The document stated that it had already been established that at the time of the registration of the said claims they were currently and rightfully owned by Ran Mine and in light of this Ran Mine should proceed and work on the said claims.”

Blackgate disputed the authenticity of this letter and a forensic expert from the police was engaged to verify the legitimacy of Gudyanga’s “letter”.

The forensic expert confirmed that it was authentic, according to documents seen by the Truth Diggers.

However, when Gudyanga was approached to confirm having authored the letter, the former secretary categorically denied having written such a letter.

He disowned the letter in an affidavit before a commissioner of oaths on November 20, 2021, highlighting that the signature appended on the correspondence “was not his.”